School District To Pay Troubled Students To Attend Summer School

Posted on August 1, 2012

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Washington D.C. (The Gaslamp Post) – The D.C. school district 305 is attempting a new approach to dealing with what they call “at-risk” students this summer.  Ninth grade students with behavioral or learning problems are being offered the chance to attend summer school, and be paid $5.25 an hour for simply showing up.

The program called “Summer Bridge” is intended to give more attention to students who are believed to not be as likely as others, to graduate after four years in high school.

While it is not certain whether or not the program will work, a similar program that ran from the 08-09 through the 09-10 school years, reportedly did not have much effect.  During those two years, a Harvard University group is reported to have paid middle school students as much as $100 each, for good grades.

After two years, it was determined that the incentive had little if any effect on the student’s overall performance.

According to the Washington Examiner, only 95 of the 300 so-called at risk students signed up for summer school this year.  So in order to fill the 400 seats that they already had set aside, they approached the Department of Employment Services who helped hatch the idea.

Rather than simply doing course work, students will be “pretending” to work for a television network, and use math and literary skills in order to solve day-to-day problems. While it would seem more realistic for these students to pretend to be gas station attendants or counter clerks, the idea is to get those kids to reach for the stars.

In addition to their salary, they will be earning one-half elective course credit for their participation in the program.

D.C. area political consultant Chuck Thies sees flaws with the program and calls it a “slippery slope.”

“How much will we pay going forward, and who will we pay, and what’s the cutoff to get paid?” Thies asked. “It’s critical that we get at-risk students and underperforming students and failing students into the program, but I don’t think incentivizing them with money sends the right message.”

(h/t:  Washington Examiner)